21 types of parents teachers hate dealing with

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Note: The purpose of this article is not to say teachers are always in the right. The hope is we as parents can take an honest look at how we deal with our students and the educational system; as well as maybe have a sense of humor about our quirks.

1.       Helicopters

Well known among the circles of anyone working with children, these parents find it very hard to cut the attachment strings. They will hover around their child long after all other parents have left the professionals to do their work. It is good to be involved, but give the kid a little space.

2.       Micro-managers

They just have to have their hands in everything. No matter how minor the assignment or incident, they have a compulsive need to insert their authority into the situation. They are basically control freaks in parental form.


3.       Underminers

Parents should beware of the repercussions when openly bad-mouthing a child’s teacher in front of them. The result is the child may feel they no longer need to respect that educator themselves. The irony is, many parents who commit this error of judgment will often blame the teacher when the child no longer responds to their authority in the classroom.


4.       Absentees

These are the parents who are completely uninvolved. They never show up to events or conferences. Whether their child is failing or just became the valedictorian, they could care less. The way systems are often constructed, the squeaky wheel gets the oil. Therefore, the child loses out when their parents fail to advocate at all. But should that child grow up to become very successful, guess who suddenly emerges from the shadows.


5.       Dumpers

Is there anything quite like the parent who spills way too much information during casual conversations? Without any prompting, they will tell the teacher far more than they ever needed or cared to know. It is not entirely a joke to say a casual conversation with them can quickly become a full on therapy session.


6.       The Connected

It is understandable that from time to time, a teacher will run into a parent who happens to know people of influence within the school or administration. However, it becomes problematic when this influence is used to give the child unfair advantages such as choosing which teacher they will have. The problem is for every rule that is bent, another student with less connected parents must lose out.


7.       The Gullible

Believe it or not, there really are parents who take everything their child tells them at face value. It just does not occur to them that when the child tells them about a conflict at school, they may minimize their part in the situation. Unfortunately, these parents will then react to what was told to them without first getting other sides of the story. One of the tell-tale sayings which may emerge from their mouths is the infamous, “My child never lies.”


8.       Scapegoaters

Whenever their kid gets into trouble or is having academic difficulties, it is always somebody else’s fault. It must be some other student, the curriculum, the teacher, the workload, the thermostat not being at 73.0675° or any other number of excuses. This is not to say those factors are entirely devoid of any impact, but blame certainly seems to avoid ever landing at the feet of the parent or child.


9.       Axe-grinders

For whatever reason, these parents just seem to have it out for their child’s teacher. Despite how much educators may bend over backwards to appease their requests and complaints, it is simply never enough. They have made up their minds about this vendetta and they are sticking to it.


10.   Ladder-skippers

Almost nothing can be more irritating on any job, than people who go over our heads to the boss as the first course of action. In the field of education it is even more frustrating. For one, it is highly doubtful either the principal or superintendent spent any significant amount of time in that classroom; if any at all. So to appeal directly to them rather than first checking with the people who are with the child everyday really makes little sense. After all, the first thing they are going to do is ask the teachers what happened anyway.


11.   Inventors

The good thing about this type of parent is they are highly creative. The not so good part is they have a tendency to pull information and promises the teacher supposedly said out of thin air. They will twist what was once said or even put words into people’s mouths if it will help them make their case. Eventually, the teacher will refuse to ever speak with them without another witness being present in case accusations are conjured up later.


12.   Litigators

It may not be an issue in most public schools, but it certainly is at any school populated by well-to-do families. Anytime a problem arises or a child is up for discipline, the threat of legal action soon follows. It really is just a combination of several of the previously listed types; except having a lot more money and resources behind them.


13.   Spotlighters

Being in a teaching position is not necessary to spot the Spotlighter. Pretty much anyone notices their incessant demand for their child to have the lead in the school play or starting spot on the team. Maybe they really do feel their child has earned these positions or maybe they want to live vicariously through them. But whatever the case, they can make little league games slightly more entertaining than they would be otherwise.


14.   Do-it-yourself Disciplinarians

Their mantra is, “You don’t need to do anything. I’ll deal with them at home.” To be honest, parents certainly should discipline their children at home when they mess up at school. But why should this negate what the school needs to do on their end? If they are under the same policy as every other student attending, it is only fair that they experience the same school-related consequences for the same infractions. The situation can also turn fairly hypocritical when this type of parent then demands the school discipline another student for something done to their child.


15.   Drama Queens

What could be better than someone who takes the most harmless of circumstances and escalates them into crisis situations? Initially, they may seem like a very concerned caregiver. When several such incidents occur, it becomes clear the need for something to complain about may be a competing priority alongside the desire to advocate for their child.


16.   Creepers

Creepers come in many forms. Whether it is the awkward attempts to flirt, inappropriate comments or gifts leaving an uncomfortable feeling, these people just plain creep teachers out.


17.   Sibling Rivalists

Parents should be wary about playing favorites with their offspring, but these parents routinely disregard such wisdom. They constantly compare the child who is a bit less intelligent or athletic, to their high honor roll, all-conference sibling. No matter how many times it is heard, most will always cringe when hearing, “why can’t you be more like your brother/sister?”


18.   Overachievers

If anyone has ever wondered how far a child can be pushed before folding like a house of cards, the Overachievers certainly put this hypothesis to the test. Between the full load of honors courses, multiple sports, theatre productions, academic competitions, yearbook editing, dance recitals and every other activity they could possibly be involved in, these children are stretched far too thin. The saddest part is they often pursue or maintain such a heavy load at the behest of parents who undervalue the freedom of childhood.


19.   Downers

Watching the mood and expression of a child completely change as their parent crushes their self-esteem, is an experience few will forget. In the eyes of these people, their child can do nothing right. Even when contacting them to share positive events or improvement, the first thing out of their mouth is “What did they do now?”


20.   Buggers

Perhaps they are just very sociable or merely have a lot to say. Either way, they are constantly making calls, sending emails or showing up to the classroom. Some may even send emails that are literally several pages in length and spend 45 minutes on the phone. In a strange way, they may become a Helicopter more to the teacher than the student.


21.   Abusers

Nothing breaks a teacher’s heart more than dealing with cases of suspected abuse. As mandated reporters to the state, they are required by law to report any sign of possible abuse or neglect. But when it is evident abuse is actually occurring, it quickly becomes a much more disturbing situation. In many cases, the most frustrating reality is knowing how limited the authorities may be when it comes to acting on the best interest of children in these predicaments.

By Corey Dorsey

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4 thoughts on “21 types of parents teachers hate dealing with”

  1. I wonder is there isn’t something to reflect on if the Teacher Culture has 21 different personality types stereotyped for parents. What type of cultural competence is being displayed?

    If teachers are teaching with this type of judgement on put on individuals they barely know, it might be wised to ask ” what type of stereotyping are they engaging in regarding the students they are teaching?”

    This is not a healthy post, for it furthers the stereotyping behaviors that cause disfunction in our school systems.

    The question I’m left with, after reading this post is ” Do you really believe your judgement goes un- noticed?”

    1. Hello “Reflective” and thank you for reading and commenting. I sense there may possibly be some preconceptions behind your response I should clear up. For one, I am not a teacher but do spend a lot of time in classrooms during the course of my work with children who have autism and other developmental disorders. If you would notice the “note” I put at the beginning of the post, I meant what I said. This was not about bashing parents, especially since I myself am one, but about bringing some honesty and levity to how we can sometimes interact with educators.

      But if you happened to notice the “related posts” section above, you may notice another post talking about 21 types of teachers we may have in our life. And believe that in that post I note some of the shortcomings from the other side.

      Let’s just be honest for a second. For better or worse, people in general make judgments. Judgment in itself is not a bad thing. In fact, the ability to accurately read life situations and people is a highly valuable skill. But my guess is the type of judgement you believe I employ is of the more ignorant, reactive variety. This is not the case, I assure you. What makes judgement more accurate is when any person is willing to judge themselves to the degree they judge others. I do not write from a place of moral superiority, but as a fellow human who acknowledges I am just as susceptible to idiocy as anyone else.

      But those of us who pretend we never judge are deceiving ourselves. They are actually more susceptible to making erroneous decisions based on inaccurate judgments because they willfully deny any judgments are present. And as with most things in life, it is impossible to address how to improve our judgement if we are unwilling to admit we have a problem in the first place. You clearly misjudged my motivation for writing this article, in my opinion. I invite you to further explore if your original judgment was indeed accurate.

      Thank you again for again responding and I hope we can continue this conversation.

  2. In my experience, teachers uniformly resent any and all parental interactions that they themselves did not request or initiate. I believe this is because on a fundamental level they don’t believe they are accountable to parents for anything, and dislike any interaction that could possibly result from the underlying assumption that they are.

    ** my comment is restricted to public school teachers only.

    1. Hey Frank, I appreciate you reading the article. I’m sure the issue of accountability is true for some teachers since our human nature does not take kindly to accountability, if left unchecked. But just as there are people who value the importance of accountability in their lives, there are also public school teachers who value it from parents. Just as well, I’m also sure there are some private school teachers who want to avoid accountability to parents. To blanket it for pretty much all public educators would seem to be a bit far reaching; especially if you haven’t had interactions with a large number of public teachers from all around the country. I have personally met teachers who were very open to feedback and suggestions from others; as well as some who were very close-minded. Different teachers have different personalities and character traits. The notion that pretty much all people in an occupation would react the same way is a pretty far stretch, wouldn’t you think? It’s like saying all scientists are inclined to be atheists or all police officers would shoot a black person without good reason. There are some who fit that description, but also some who don’t.

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